Return Engagements: Book Three (Part Fifteen)

The morning after Yom Kippur (Thursday, Sept. 25th)I rolled out of bed and began checklists for my next steps, just barely squeezing in my homesick routine. Everything came together fast and hard. That afternoon I made my travel reservations.

I was as sure as I could be that none of my contacts went to the government with their letter (if they didn’t think I was serious, they’d write me off as a crank), but I was about to go to large cities, carrying pieces of a spacecraft the Feds might know was on the loose. After all, they would have seen impact marks, skid marks and truck tracks at the crash site, not to mention the motorcycle. It was obvious that someone made away with one of the spacecrafts.

I spend most of the next day pulling small pieces off the probe and wrapping them carefully. I prepared one small box for each of my respondents, also including a set of photographs and one negative. It was important that they had things to authenticate. What I wanted was for them to get my perspective into print, and I included letters in each box, making the point clear. If this mission was going to work, just making a splash wasn’t remotely enough; I needed people to grasp – or at least start to grasp – that we are creatures of the universe, and not just creatures of a semi-primitive planet.

The next day was a Saturday, and I took it as a day of rest, which I needed. On Sunday I again caught the 20th Century Limited and arrived in New York the following morning. I checked into the hotel and went looking for Dorothy Kilgallen. She was easy to find, since she had a morning radio show in those days, and so I simply camped out across from the studio and waited.

Enriching, enriching,” I said as I walked up to she and her husband, smiling and approaching her husband more directly than her. I tried to make myself look as unthreatening as possible.

First of all,” I said quickly, “I very much appreciate your interest. I’d like to give you something if you don’t mind.” They nodded and I pulled their box out of my soft leather briefcase, handing it to her husband, who seemed protective of her. Then I stepped back to give them more comfort.

I know you’ll find that interesting.” Then I handed her (not her husband this time) a small notebook and a pen. I asked for a private mailing address, so I could send her more, and she dutifully wrote it down. I thanked her, took a step back, and spoke more freely.

Look, I fell into this by the strangest of luck, and it’s more important than you can presently imagine that the truth of this gets out… and I mean important on a civilizational level. I have the goods and will publicly reveal the goods, and if you want to be there, you’ll be there.”

Then I asked her what she wanted from me. She, of course, said, “An exclusive.”

I laughed and told her that I couldn’t do that, but that I could guarantee her at least a one-day head start on anyone else. That was going to be the case anyway; it would take me some time to find Frederick Woltman; I could locate his paper easily enough, but I had no idea what the man looked like.

I thanked the two of them, apologized for approaching them on the street, and advised them to be careful, that people in government would almost certainly try to stop the story.

I spent time in front of the New York World-Telegram, but couldn’t identify Woltman, and simply mailed the package to him from a post office I passed on my way back to the hotel. But I did spend a pleasant evening, having dinner at the Waldorf where I stayed, then walking to Broadway to see Brigadoon, which I enjoyed more than I had expected. A pleasant set of conversations in the theater and in front made it all the better.

The next morning I repacked my briefcase, hopped a taxi to the train and made my way to Baltimore. I arrived at Mencken’s at about noon. I knocked on the door and he invited me in. I handed him his box and we sat at a big table while he carefully opened it and inspected a thin piece of metal (almost foil) made of some exotic alloy, along with a piece of optical fiber. I sat silently.

I saw a story on this and thought it was too outlandish to be true,” he said, looking up at me almost as a child would. That was not something I expected of Mencken, but the man was holding alien artifacts in his hands; he had to be awed by it.

I laughed gently. “I’m sure I would have thought the same. And yet, there it is, and I have to do something about it.”

Mencken got up and paced for a minute or two, while a hot debate raged in me: What do I tell this guy about how I got this? And I’d also have to address Renn. It was obvious that the man in my photos wasn’t me.

Mencken sat back down, forcing me to make a decision. He was clearly a strong-minded and experienced man, meaning that he could handle surprises, but this was way, way beyond normal experience, and even though the question of how to handle this part had been floating around my head for some time, I didn’t have a clear answer to it.

Finally I said, “Look, I don’t want to go into the details of how I got this right now; they’re too outlandish to be useful to you. Perhaps later I can. But I do have the goods.”

Now he looked at me hard. “Precisely which goods?”

I picked up the stack of photos, thumbed through it, and found one showing the probe… the spacecraft… clearly and up close.

I slapped it down on the table in front of him and said, “I have that.” He almost gasped.

It’s stored safely in a place no one would expect, and I will reveal it at some point, hopefully soon.” I paused until it looked like he had absorbed all of that, then went on.

If you want to be there, you’ll be there. But there is one thing I need from you, and it’s essential.”

Go on,” he said.

I need to tell the American people where this came from, why, and what it implies about our place in the universe. If I can’t get that message across, repeatedly, then this is all for naught. The flying saucer is merely theater, as real as it may be. What matters is getting necessary ideas into human minds.”

After a stunned moment, Mencken rose, then turned to me, made a sweeping motion toward his entire house, and said, “Make yourself at home for a while. I need to digest this.”

Certainly,” I responded. I had seen a piano and asked, “Will it bother you if I play a bit of piano?”

Only if you’re as bad at it as I am,” he said with a smile.

I said I hoped I wasn’t and played some of the quieter, more thoughtful little bits of music I know for piano.

* * * * *

I made it back to New York and the Waldorf very late, making it into my hotel room at nearly one o’clock AM.

Mencken and I had spoken at some length before I left, which gave me an opportunity to thank him for his work, some of which I’ve greatly appreciated. He responded graciously, but was far more interested in what I planned on telling America about the alien spacecraft.

I’m sure I rambled a bit while explaining; but I told him what I knew: that they were sent in reaction to atomic explosions, that they were headed to the site of the first explosion, where they crashed short of their target because of some still-unknown malfunction.

I also explained that the people who had created these probes were horrified that we would think aliens were massively different from us, and even that they were frightening creatures. From there I went on to develop the line of thought that became issue #111 of my Free-Man’s Perspective newsletter. I went through a few of those ideas and then stopped.

I was feeling pretty well done with the subject, which he perceived. He asked his housekeeper to make me a sandwich, and went to his office to make a couple of phone calls. I gave him a concerned look as he walked out, but he waived me off. “I know the stakes,” he said. “I won’t endanger you.”

Half an hour later he returned. Mencken had called a man named John T. Flynn, who had also been an enemy of Roosevelt’s, and Flynn, in turn, would be calling Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. I had forgotten about Flynn, but I had read one of his books back in the 1990s, on Pearl Harbor.

Mencken and I parted as friends, and I was energized by the experience. But, again, I was tired, and slept on the train back to New York.

What tired me with Mencken was the strange burden of delivering something truly new to the world. I’ve experienced it before in my writing. When going about to put some truly new idea into the world, it has felt overly difficulty to me, as if I was pushing through a barrier of some sort. It could, of course, be something internal to me – feeling that it’s alien to the world and needs to be forced into it – though I don’t think that’s actually the case. But whatever it is, I was feeling it when talking to Mencken, and it is draining.

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Paul Rosenberg